Takeda corrals 13 patient groups for U.K. rare-disease awareness campaign

Takeda UK rare disease campaign image
Takeda U.K. leads into Rare Disease Day with awareness campaign centered around the the fact that one in 17 people there will be diagnosed. (Takeda U.K.)

Seventeen rare disease patients are the faces of the Takeda’s awareness campaign leading up to Rare Disease Day on Saturday. Paired with different artists, the “changemakers,” as Takeda calls them, shared their stories through various artwork including photographs, paintings and textiles.

One woman and her young daughter, who has tuberous sclerosis, embrace in a textile piece, while the story of a young man with hemophilia A who was also an Olympic swimmer is told through a water-themed painting.

The campaign, called, “I am Number 17,” is meant to highlight the fact that one in 17 people in the U.K. will be affected with a rare disease at some point in their lives. Its website shows each person—and in some cases a child and parent—along with the artwork created and a link to the extended story about their disease and how it has affected them.


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The art was shown at an exhibition at the OXO Gallery in London and Takeda is currently finalizing plans to take the artwork on the road throughout the U.K. this year.

The effort is a first for Takeda U.K. in bringing together a collective of rare disease patient groups to work on one initiative. Thirteen organizations participated in the campaign.

At its heart, the effort is a community campaign, Jon Neal, managing director at Takeda U.K. and Ireland, said. Rare disease patients often feel alone, but with so many people collectively affected, rare isn’t really all that rare.

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“Raising awareness of rare diseases is critically important. We want to make sure that every person living with a rare disease has access to a swift diagnosis, to the care, support and opportunities they should rightfully expect. Our goal is to increase understanding of what it’s like to live with a rare disease and show that collectively, rare diseases aren’t always that rare,” he said in an email interview.

Takeda became a major rare-disease player with its mega-buyout of Shire early last year.